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Dosa
Photograph: Courtesy Dosa

The best affordable tasting menus in San Francisco

You don’t have to empty your wallet to enjoy great multicourse meals, thanks to San Francisco’s most affordable tasting menus

By Virginia Miller
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Pricey prix fixe menus are the bread and butter of fine dining restaurants, but the best affordable tasting menus in San Francsico prove that you don’t have to make it rain to have a stellar multicourse meal. For under $100, you can enjoy an Italian feast (with a Venezuelan twist), a hearty spread of Indian curries and dosa and standout omakase at one of San Francisco's best restaurants. 

SF tasting menus under $100

Young hen at Commonwealth
Photograph: Yelp/Elaine H

1. Commonwealth

Restaurants Californian Mission

You’d be hard pressed to find a better tasting menu for the price than the one at Commonwealth, where chef Jason Fox has been crafting fine-dining dishes since 2010. The five-course (plus amuse bouche and palate cleansers) tasting menu ($85) is a mash-up of flavors including a hot-cold collision of fried oysters, coastal succulents and frozen horseradish mousse or the squid noodles, crispy chicken skin and reconstituted spring peas in a lime, mint and pea consomme.

Heirloom tomato caprese with mozzarella at Francisca’s
Photograph: Yelp/Lance W.

2. Francisca's

Restaurants Steakhouse Mission

Chef Manny Torres Gimenez and his wife Katerina De Torres's family-style tasting menu ($65) is a steal. The menu changes daily to feature fresh finds from the farmers market, but you always get to choose what you want in each of the four courses. We love the Santa Barbara spot prawns dipped in Venezuelan chimichurri, the plantain lasagna and the yucca gnocchi. Tip: dine at 5:30pm or 9:30pm to get four courses for just $35! 

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Dosa
Photograph: Courtesy Dosa

3. Dosa on Fillmore

Restaurants Indian Japantown

Dosa's new, family-style tasting menu ($60) was inspired by owner Anjan Mitra and chef Arun Gupta's recent travels through the Kerala state in India. The menu is a deal with four creative bites to start (like crab poori), vegetables and salads (like silky Brokaw avocado chaat with grapefruit, habanero and coconut), fantastic curries (like a Philipkutty coconut chicken curry) and family-style dosas and dessert to finish.

Avery
Photograph: Yelp/Lydia L

4. Avery

Restaurants Western Addition

Avery offers three different tasting menus: A pricey $289 menu in the private dining room upstairs, a $189, 13-15 course option and an $89 “Cello Player” menu. The latter features 7-8 courses of inspired dishes like lemongrass-laden lobster curry and liquid tortellini en brodo with foie gras. It’ll cost you extra for sommelier Daniel Bromberg’s rare saké and wine pairings, but the many pours are worth it. 

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Bone marrow madeleines at Nico
Photograph: Yelp/Julie W.

5. Nico

Restaurants Contemporary European Jackson Square

Nico's new Jackson Square digs feature a stylish full bar and new prix fixe lunch and dinner menus ($62-$82). The menu remains focused on seasonal farmers market finds like smoked trout roe in a warm sabayon or steelhead trout in anchovy-laced broth. There are two- and three-course lunch menus and at night, four-and six-course menus available. 

Sushi at Robin in Hayes Valley
Photograph: Ana Kamin

6. Robin

Restaurants Japanese Hayes Valley

At Hayes Valley’s chic Robin, Chef Adam Tortosa has fun with omakase menus that incorporate pristine, non-traditional nigiri, A5 beef tartare and sesame noodles in shaved black truffles. Omakase menus range from $79-179, but for $100 you can experience a sushi feast unlike any other.

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Dining table at Merchant Roots
Photograph: Patricia Chang, courtesy Merchant Roots

7. Merchant Roots

Shopping Grocery stores Western Addition

This fantastic neighborhood cafe serves handmade pastas, sandwiches and pastries as well as fresh pastas and sauces to cook at home. At the chef's table—an intimate, 8-seat table available after normal cafe hours— you can order from a variety of menus based on playful themes like the "Colors” menu ($98) where each course represents a color. 

Sardine chips with horesradish and pepper cress at Rich Table
Photograph: Michael O'Neal

8. Rich Table

Restaurants Californian Hayes Valley

Rich Table’s family-style tasting menu ($89) is only for groups of 7 or more and you must reserve ahead, but it’s well worth it once you’re in the hands of one of SF’s most talented chef duos, Evan and Sarah Rich. Menu options include their famous porcini doughnuts, cacio e pepe-style tonnarelli noodles in sea urchin Idiazabel cream sauce and coconut shave ice over lime sherbert. But we say, get it all. 

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Parigo
Photograph: Courtesy Parigo

9. Parigo

Restaurants Marina District

With an inviting back patio, Parigo is a cozy Marina wine bar offering good food and even better wine. The tasting menu is quite a deal: three courses with wine pairings for $65. Featured dishes include yellowfin tuna crudo in lemon garlic aioli and wine director Sarah Trubnick offers two suggested pairings for each dish. 

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